The fall, for sure. Hot dog vendors. The energy when you walk out your door. Yellow taxicabs. The smell of fireplaces on tree-lined streets. Little girls seeing Radio City Music Hall for the first time. Tourists in carriages through the crapass park. The idea of museums. Sarabeth’s. The fashion. The "Pop-art" sandwich from Popover Cafe on the upper west. The portobello sandwich at Zoe in SoHo. And I certainly miss my friends and the spontaneity of the city. On my last night in New York, some of my closest girlfriends took me out for dinner at Bivio, complete with wishes for the "bride to be" and a strawberry shortcake. Alexandra would be running late at a work function, so we were instructed to order without her. Signals were crossed, and our waiter assumed we’d wait for our entire party before placing our full dinner menu. So tall glasses of Prosecco were had over shared appetizers. Then glasses went dry as we surveyed the restaurant for our waiter.
I am always nice to wait staff, even when they’re wrong and 100% to blame. I realize they’ve had a long day, or maybe their feet hurt. It has very little to do with worrying if they’ll spit in my food (or worse, add phlegm, semen, snot, or pubes) or if they’ll think I’m rude and everything to do with patience. I’m always patient. I don’t know why. It is not that I don’t value myself enough, or question whether I’m paying enough to get good service… I just think eventually it all comes out good, and why make more mess? I usually grin and bear it. When service is good, I always make an effort to tell a manager. But when it’s bad, I tend to keep my trap shut.
Back to Bivio…the waiter abandoned us. It’s one thing if there were a miscommunication about waiting for our entire party to arrive before he recited the specials, but he should have checked in to ensure we were at least being hydrated. When we did flag him down, he tried to make nice, without apologizing. One of my friends would hear none of it and chastised him as if he’d just made in his emergency pants, on purpose. He said he’d love it if someone else would wait on our table. Make everyone happy. "No, just take our orders, please, and let’s be done with it." Oh my.
"He’s trying to make it better," I told my ordinarily sweet friend.
"I just can’t deal today," she said. And I sort of understood. We all have different ways of handling situations.
Two minutes later a bus boy sets down three complimentary plates of appetizers. Eyebrows are raised. "That’s the way to do things, girls." "I’m so amazed." It was our waiter’s way of apologizing while he worked on our entrees. I thought, for just a moment, "Wow, I guess sometimes it pays to be the squeaky wheel. I mean, maybe there’s something to be said for being aggressive or assertive. But, I dunno…"
"I used to do this all the time when I was a waitress," another friend chimed in as she grabbed some asparagus spears. "You always get better tips, no matter what has happened."
"Call me cynical," I said as my fork hovered above a ball of cheese, "but I think that bus boy just dropped off their food by mistake," I said tipping my head toward the table of men beside us. We laughed for a moment, then continued to pass around the new plates of food. One of us then sheepishly asked the men beside us, "Did you happen to order the calamari, asparagus, and mozzarella sampling?"
Ahem. I was right. The waiter had certainly not sent over the appetizers in good faith, but we ate them as if he had. And we were not charged for his mistake(s), except when the obligatory 20% gratuity was added due to the size of our party.
Now, back to the bits I miss about New York… moments like these with my girlfriends… and of course, when Alexandra showed up with, "Oh, the drams I have to share, my pritts! I just shared a cab with a stranger, some sex lady who needed a cab as desperately as I did. She doused me with pheromones and told me to rub some on my clit so it’ll taste like a creamsicle." That is the shite I miss. The randomness with strangers. How we spoke with the strangers beside us, how we meet people in cabs, on sidewalks, everywhere, with mangled stories of strange. I know Austin’s motto is "Keep Austin Weird," so I’m on the watch for it now that most of the vomiting has subsided.*
*P.S. This Wednesday we go for our "first screen test" where the babies get their close-ups and their necks are measured, and my finger is pricked. I can’t wait!